Times Are Hard. Having a Disability Is Harder.

"Times are hard," said the creditor, cutting off my explanation that I'd love to pay my debt, but can't, because my disability is so severe that I can't work. "Times are hard for us all. I know".

Don't tell me you know how hard I have it until you've stayed up all night, clutching your stomach and trying not to be sick, wondering if a tenth extra-stong painkiller will kill you-- and wondering if maybe dying would be better than this.

Don't tell me you know how hard I have it until you've been so desperate to make the pain (emotional and physical) stop that you'd consider anything, everything; therapies that make you go into debt, dangerous treatments that have a 50% chance of working, expensive prescriptions that give you viscious side effects. And when none of that works, you're ready to cut your wrists or burn your thighs or drink until you forget.

Don't tell me you know how hard I have it until you've worked as diligently as you possibly could, for as long as you possibly could, and realized that your best wasn't good enough. You fall asleep on the job because the fatigue is so overpowering. You're in excruciating pain and have to call it quits early. Maybe you can't even get a job in the first place because you're too sick.

Don't tell me you know how hard I have it until you've had to stretch your $100/month salary and sell everything you own and beg your parents or friends or the government for help so you can put food on the table. And then the creditors start calling... You fell deep into debt 'splurging' on clothing and shelter and medication, praying that your health would stop declining so you could finally hold down a real job and pay off your Visas, just for your cards to be maxed out and the sharks to start circling. How can you pay off 3 credit cards and feed yourself and pay for medical treatment on $100/month? They don't care.

Don't tell me you know how hard I have it until you've been stared at and cat called because you gained literally 150 pounds on a new medication. You lose friends because you keep having to cancel on them because you don't feel well, ever. Even your doctors don't know what to do with you. You develop clinical depression because you're so distressed about your illness and the way it affects your family, friends and career. People glare at you because you won't can't give your seat on the bus to a little old lady because your joints are aching. You go to bed in pain and wake up in pain. You go to bed tired and wake up tired. You take your meds, grab your cane or your brace or your heating pad and pray that tomorrow will be better, that people will be more understanding, that simply existing won't be this grueling.

Don't tell me you know how hard I have it. Because unless you have a disability, you don't.

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